San Francisco, California

Amazon Chronicles

Tim Carmody happens to be one of my favorite writers and he’s just set up a newsletter over at Substack where he’s going to be writing the Amazon Chronicles each week. This beat will cover everything about Amazon – from their ambitions and other-wordly weirdness to all the ways in which a single company can impact our lives.

Now, normally I wouldn’t recommend yet another tech thing to read but this different – Tim’s work stands above all the other tech journalism out there where I actually start to pay attention to what he has to say. His writing is always kind and sweet and interesting. In fact, it’s just the sort of writing to make me mad with jealousy because you can tell that there’s someone out there, sitting in front of their keyboard, who happens to be exceptionally smart and curious. And we’re just lucky enough to stumble upon his smarts and curiosities.

Take this entry where Tim interprets Amazon’s quarterly earnings:

I have an unusual education for a technology reporter. I didn’t study journalism in college or graduate school. I have two undergraduate degrees, one in mathematics and the other in philosophy, and a master’s degree and PhD in comparative literature. I was interested in the way media technologies shape the way people think and write. That helped prepare me for my later jobs a little bit. But what I really learned how to do in being trained as a humanist was how to work a document, how to figure out what kind of work it’s doing, what kinds of rhetorical forms it employs, what kinds of authority it appeals to, and so forth. You have to trace all the vectors that make a text do work in the world. And an earnings statement is definitely a document designed to do work in the world.

Tim goes on to breakdown what might otherwise be a painfully eye rolling subject and explains all the drama and intrigue that this subject demands. In short: I cannot recommend Tim’s newsletter highly enough and I can’t wait to see where this thing goes.


P.S. If you’re currently enjoying the italics on Substack then you have me to thank for it and no I am not above bragging about this. You’re welcome.